Coronavirus: Belgium has third most deaths per inhabitant
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    Coronavirus: Belgium has third most deaths per inhabitant

    Countries with a bigger population do not necessarily have a higher number of reported cases, or deaths, at the same moment in time. Credit: Belga

    In Belgium, 828 people died from the consequences of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) up until 1 April, making it the country with the third most deaths per inhabitant.

    This article is based on available data up until 1 April, as not all countries have updated their figures beyond that date yet.

    Worldwide, only nine countries recorded more deaths than Belgium did in absolute figures. With a total of 13,155 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, Italy has been hit hardest by the virus. Followed by Spain (9,387) and the United States (5,102). The others were France, China, Iran, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.

    Looking at the numbers of coronavirus deaths per inhabitant, however, Belgium, with 71 deaths per million citizens, is the country with the third most deaths. Only Italy (218) and Spain (201) recorded a higher figure.

    Important to take into account while looking at the figures is the timing. The outbreak started earlier in some countries than it did in others, making a big difference in the number of reported deaths. This means that countries with a bigger population do not necessarily have a higher number of reported cases, or deaths, at the same moment in time.

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    Therefore, in the initial phase of the pandemic, it makes more sense to compare the absolute figures of different countries, experts told Het Nieuwsblad, and not divide them by the number of inhabitants. The longer it lasts, the more the size of the population will start playing a role, and the less relevant it will be to compare the absolute figures.

    Based on figures by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the first ten deaths in Italy occurred 20 days before Belgium. The number of deaths reported in Belgium per day follows the Italian curve of 20 days earlier fairly well, although a little slower.

    The same goes for the number of patients in intensive care, the increase in Belgium roughly follows the Italian evolution, but 18 days behind and also a little slower.

    However, timing is not the only factor creating the difference between countries, as differences in population density and structure, the measures that were taken (and at what point in the spread of the infection), and the number of initially infected people returning from their travels that started the spread, all play a part.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times